Merkle’s Latest 2021 Customer Engagement Report Focuses on Operationalizing Data to Power Next-Level Experiences

The research explores marketers’ practices across first-party data, identity resolution, and technology investments

Merkle, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company, has released its latest 2021 Customer Engagement Report (CER). The report explores how marketers are building a foundation of data and identity resolution to power real-time and privacy-safe experiences across offline and online channels to meet digital-first consumer expectations that erupted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Merkle surveyed 600 marketing, analytics, and technology executives of major brands ($100 million+ USD in annual revenue) from the US and the UK on how their companies are transforming to meet the digital-first mindset of today’s consumers and what opportunities they are pursuing. The CER discusses the findings from the survey and provides insights to marketers on operationalizing customer data, privacy-safe customer experiences, and customer data platform (CDP) technology and identity resolution capabilities.

“Since our last CER in Q1 2021, we have seen that customer expectations driven by the pandemic and changes to data and privacy are here to stay,” said Craig Dempster, global CEO at Merkle/CXM. “Organizations must centralize their data management practices to build a 360-degree view of each consumer and empower teams across the enterprise to respond quickly to customer needs across every channel and at scale.”

Successfully Operationalizing CDPs

Although CDPs are seeing increased adoption among businesses, the survey reveals marketers are missing key components for successful implementation.

  • While CDPs are useful to help activate the collected data, 59 percent of respondents indicated that their CDP is primarily being used as a data consolidation tool.
  • This suggests marketers are missing out on their CDP’s full value with most users today simply using the platform as a database but not fully utilizing the powerful activation and measurement tools available.
  • A successful CDP implementation takes the right use cases, the right collected data to fuel it, and the right team in place for speed and agility out of the gate.

Leveraging Identity and Consumer Data in Real Time

Rapidly changing consumer expectations have created a unique opportunity for brands to better identify known and unknown consumers and use data to power in-the-moment experiences.

  • However, while new channels are introducing new streams of data, the survey results indicate that broad data collection is not helpful.
  • Instead, when building an identity strategy, marketers should look at the big picture and think strategically about the experiences they want to put into place, as well as the data and technology needed to make it happen.
  • Real-time activation of data is also becoming a significant priority for marketers, with a staggering 94 percent saying they have implemented integrated/real-time capabilities to support a rapid shift to online customer contacts instead of in-person.

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